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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3008


Senator KILGARIFF(1.02) —Recently an article published in the Bulletin gave details of Soviet testing of nuclear weapons near Midway Island late last year. The article, entitled `Peacenicks silent as Soviets test super missiles in the Pacific', was written by Dr Leslie Kemney, a senior lecturer at the School of Nuclear Engineering at the University of New South Wales. Dr Kemney states that since 1969 the Soviets have regularly tested nuclear-capable weapons in our region. He says that the Defence Department confirmed recent tests, occurring on 10 and 11 July, 8 and 9 August and 6, 17, 18 and 25 December, 1984. Missiles tested included the huge multi-warhead SS18S first strike weapons the pupose of which would be to initiate a nuclear attack. The point which is very well made by Dr Kemney in his article is that while peace groups and anti-nuclear activists have protested loudly at the French testing at Mururoa, the presence of nuclear-powered ships of our ally the United States in our ports and the testing of the MX missile in the Pacific, there has been a deafening silence from the peace groups in relation to the Soviet tests.

This demonstrates the sheer hypocrisy of the peace movement and it also gives a clear insight into its politics. Parties such as the Nuclear Disarmament Party have claimed to be parties for peace not concerned with the ideological differences between East and West, yet within the peace movement there is a clear reluctance to upset the pro-Soviet sympathisers who tend to dominate these organisations. It is extremely unfortunate that many of those involved in the peace movement, who I have no doubt are generally committed to peace, and manipulated by its radical left wing leaders are the first to march in the streets when the United States wants to test MX missiles in the Pacific but the last to inform their fellow peace activists when the Soviets test nuclear missiles in the area.

The peace movement does itself, and Australia, a great disservice by failing to acquaint its members with the facts in relation to Soviet activity and armaments in this region of the world. Peace activists seem to be unaware of, or indifferent to, the fact that Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam has become the largest permanent base for the Soviet fleet outside the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. I understand that there are 26 ships located at the base as well as a squadron of MIG23 aircraft and a considerable number of the latest large continent-spanning reconnaissance bomber aircraft. Vietnam is paying dearly for the millions of dollars worth of Soviet support which is necessary to keep the Vietnamese armed forces operational. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics maintains about six to eight sophisticated warships at the base and as many support ships, and about five to six submarines some of which are Victor class nuclear powered attack submarines. Only a few weeks ago the huge Soviet battle cruiser Frunze entered the Pacific Ocean. This vessel is a 35,000 tonne nuclear armed and nuclear powered cruiser and its entry into the Pacific represents a major escalation of Soviet forces in the region. The battle cruiser is part of a task force, the rest of which consists of the 7,000 tonne Sovremenny class guided missile destroyer Osmotritel'Nyi and the 4,500 tonne Kashin class destroyer Strogy. I understand that the task force is being kept under surveillance to determine whether it will be based in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, but all indications are that it will be. There has been sufficient publicity surrounding the presence of these vessels to alert anyone concerned about the military build up in this region to the fact that the Soviets have dramatically increased their military capability in the Pacific. But not a word have I heard from any of the peace activists; not a word has been said about the introduction of another nuclear armed vessel in the region.

Not only has the peace movement ignored the build up in the Pacific but also there seems to be no appreciation amongst many members of the peace movement of the nature of Soviet military activity in other parts of the world. Take the example of Afghanistan. We see there the Soviets, having invaded the country six years ago, systematically wiping out the people. There is evidence that chemical weapons have been used against the Afghans, and yet we hear virtually nothing from peace groups on this matter. Of course United States activities in El Salvador come in for automatic criticism and condemnation, but not the Russians in Afghanistan. This is a perfect example of the double standards operating within the peace movement, and the insistence upon unconditional unilateral disarmament which is mouthed by so many of the movement's left wing leaders amounts to a recipe for increased instability in the balance which exists between East and West. The West disarming unilaterally would not advance the cause of peace; it would be far more likely to destabilise the situation. We all want peace and we must all work to achieve the dismantling of the arsen-als of nuclear weapons around the world, but it cannot be done unilaterally. There must be mutual verification of disarmament.

Those who advocate the closure of the joint defence facilities in Australia at Pine Gap, Nurrungar and North-West Cape are naive if they have not realised that these bases contribute to the balance of deterrence which has at least assisted in preventing the outbreak of a nuclear war over the past 40 years. Nuclear war capability has existed since the end of World War II but so has the deterrence. The role played by the joint facilities includes surveillance and verification, both of which are essential to deterrence. Professor Harry Gelber, an international relations and strategic studies specialist with the University of Tasmania, recently commented in an article on peace activists:

They say they want the joint American-Australian facilities removed, but say nothing about the damage to verification that this would cause, the damage of Western surveillance and intelligence, and consequently the increased danger of war.

It should be of considerable concern to all of us that peace groups persist with calls for our withdrawal from ANZUS and the removal of the joint facilities, and I have recently become aware of a peace publication which gives me great cause for concern indeed. The publication, Work For A Just Peace, which has been prepared by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, is said to have been approved for discussion and reflection by a more than two-thirds majority vote of the Catholic bishops of Australia. Given the content of the publication, I find this quite surprising. The report of the Commission clearly supports the unilateral approach which has been adopted by the Australian Democrats, the Nuclear Disarmament Party and other left wing organisations, but it is to be noted not by the Labor or coalition parties. I might comment in passing that that is not to say that there are not very many in the Labor Party who wish to see an end to the ANZUS alliance and the removal of the joint facilities. However, the publication is also hostile to uranium mining even though the extension of that aspect of the nuclear debate is not shared by peace movements in other countries. In any case, I believe that the conclusions drawn by the Commission are both reckless and regrettable, particularly given the complexity and highly political nature of the issue and the divisiveness which the Commission is causing within the Catholic Church-and amongst other people, too, for that matter.

The other matter in relation to this document which must be mentioned is that there seems to be some doubt as to just how many Catholic bishops have approved the document under discussion. There have been reports indicating that less than half of the 44 Catholic bishops responded to the Commission's inquiries on the paper. Twenty voted for the paper and one voted against it. The remaining 23, as I understand, who did not respond at all were taken to have given their approval. If this is the case, it seems to me that the Commission is guilty of gross misrepresentation and the Catholic bishops should move immediately to clarify the situation. Another matter requiring clarification goes to the funding of the publication. I understand that the CCJP received approximately $250,000 which came out of donations, so it is said in the media-it is not refuted-from members of the church who gave in the belief that the money was going to help the poor and needy of the world, not to fund a publication the conclusions of which many Catholics would heartily disagree with. Understandably there is a good deal of concern about this aspect of the activities of the Commission and I believe that, quite rightly, the suggestion of an inquiry into the possible misuse of funds has been mooted.

With the world in the situation that it is today, with not only the threat of nuclear war hanging over our heads but also the reality of more conventional wars going on around the globe and the problems of famine and other natural disasters, many in Australia are contributing to national and international relief funds. But to find that $250,000 of the money given to Project Compassion, for example, is used to fund the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace has given many Catholics, both lay people and priests, great cause for concern. The administration of the church must realise that we are not living in the Middle Ages. We are living in an age of public and financial accountability, and I would hope that the administration realises this and comes forward to explain just what is happening and indeed refunds the moneys used in the production of this publication to the cause for which this money was intended.

It has been said in the media this week-it has been said in many places and once again it has not been refuted-that there has been deceit practised in the name of peace and that essentially there have been fraudulent claims, which raises the question of elementary honesty. They are serious charges. In view of the need to reassure the Catholic and the wider Australian communities of the integrity of fund raising campaigns for the poor and needy of the world, the matter which I and a number of others have raised must be answered.